Surfboat action at Coolum.
Surfboat action at Coolum. Brett Wortman

Helmets, life jackets among safety moves for lifesavers

SURF Life Saving Australia has announced new safety measures, including the wearing of helmets on boats and life jackets on rescue IRBs,  for surf lifesaving competition and activities.

SLSA president Graham Ford said the measures would be introduced  after "diligent research, testing and hard data, all of which is publicly available on our website and has safety at the core."

The lifesaving movement has been under close scrutiny over the deaths of competitors at events, including  young Sunshine Coast competitor Matt Barclay  during the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in rough seas at Kurrawa. 

He was the third lifesaver to die at Kurrawa: Saxon Bird drowned in 2010 and teenage boat-rower Robert Gatenby died in 1996.

The changes, announced yesterday, include:

  • All surf boat rowers and sweeps must wear helmets from 1 January 2014.
     
  • All surf lifesavers operating inflatable rescue boats, both on patrol and in competition, must wear life jackets from 1 October 2014.
     
  • All competitors at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships must hold the SLSA Bronze Medallion with Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue) from 2015.

SLSA said in the new regulations followed significant changes to the event management of Surf Life Saving's National titles to increase the safety of competitors since 2010, including the introduction of compulsory high-visibility lycra vests for all competitors, venue selection criteria and onsite risk managers to assess the suitability of competition conditions who have the authority to suspend any event on the spot.



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